Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride at Griffith Park’s old zoo—where the grounds are reported to actually be haunted—is the real deal. With live performers coming at you from all directions and a haunted maze to get lost in, I never miss this event come Halloween. And the popcorn at the concession stand is wicked good.
Halloween Horror Nights At Universal Studios
Creative Director John Murdy and his team literally spend all year designing the mazes for this gigantic Halloween celebration. They spare no expense when it comes to authenticity. I do this event at least twice every year because there are just too many intricate details to take in during one visit. Plus, if you spring for the “front of line” pass, you can avoid the wait.
The Blumhouse Of Horrors
This is a good one for the hardcore haunted house veterans. The people behind Paranormal Activity came up with an interactive haunted house experience with live performers whose job it is to terrify you. They also make every visit unique: there’s this “claustrophobia” section where I found myself gasping for air, and I was literally shocked—all I’ll say is, beware of the walls. I can’t wait to see what they do this year.
What I love about this Halloween night parade is that the residents of Los Angeles make it a spectacle year after year. I’ve never been let down by the effort and creativity people put into their costumes. You can get into the holiday spirit and dress up yourself, or you can just wander the street and enjoy the sights.
The Rainbow Bar & Grill
No place puts more effort into their Halloween décor or party than The Rainbow. It has been my favorite hangout and restaurant since the day I arrived in here. It’s a living time capsule of the days when hair metal ruled the Strip. I worked there as a DJ for three years when I was still struggling to get my film career off the ground, and I met my wife there! When I finally made it in the industry, the first thing I did was bring them a framed poster of my horror film Hatchet. If you go, try Fred’s Special, and say hi to Lemmy for me. He’s playing the video trivia machine on the patio right now. No, really. He is.
Katsu-Ya doesn’t have much to do with Halloween, but Rusty’s Pet Store next door has a Halloween Pet Parade every October, so I think that counts for something. I stand by the fact that the original Katsu-Ya location on Ventura and Colfax in Studio City is the best sushi in L.A. If you’ve never had their baked hand-crab rolls or crispy rice and spicy tuna, then you haven’t really lived. Make a reservation immediately. The food is—wait for it—to die for.
Delusion: The Blood Rite
Neil Patrick Harris and Jon Braver produced this “choose your own adventure” attraction of sorts, where the audience is forced to make difficult and horrifying decisions. It’s got interactive play, real scares and impressive stunt work. I love it because of its tremendous success in taking the classic “haunted house” to a ground breaking level of fright. The major horror magazines and websites actually call it the best haunted attraction of all time.
Disneyland Halloween Time
The child in me can’t help but rave about the time of year when the “happiest place on earth” becomes the “spookiest place on earth.” Ghosts on Space Mountain, a Nightmare Before Christmas take-over of the Haunted Mansion, and lots of well done family-friendly Halloween décor, it’s Halloween done the way only Disney can do it.
Dia De Los Muertos Celebration
This is a good one for the folks who add a little culture to that revealing costume they worked out all year to fit into. It’s a beautiful celebration that lets everyone partake in the spirituality and culture of a true “Day of the Dead” festival. There’s art, dance, music, food and over one hundred cool altars created by Angelenos to honor loved ones and ancestors who are gone but not forgotten.
Jinky’s Studio Café
The pumpkin pancakes at Jinky’s are a killer way to start the day. They’re seriously the best in Southern California. They’ve got this pumpkin marmalade and whipped cream all over them, which is so good. I tend to prefer some carbs with my carbs, so I highly suggest adding a side of tater tots. It might sound unhealthy, but the plates typically come with an orange rind. Oranges are good for you, right?
Photograph (4) courtesy weho.org; all other photographs courtesy facebook.com